Manufacturing systematics and cladistics: state of the art and generic classification

Christen Rose-Anderssen, James Baldwin, Keith Ridgway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate the state of the art of applications of organisational systematics and manufacturing cladistics in terms of strengths and weaknesses and introduce new generic cladistic and hierarchical classifications of discrete manufacturing systems. These classifications are the basis for a practical web-based expert system and diagnostic benchmarking tool. Design/methodology/approach - There were two stages for the research methods, with eight re-iterative steps: one for theory building, using secondary and observational data, producing conceptual classifications; the second stage for theory testing and theory development, using quantitative data from 153 companies and 510 manufacturing systems, producing the final factual cladogram. Evolutionary relationships between 53 candidate manufacturing systems, using 13 characters with 84 states, are hypothesised and presented diagrammatically. The manufacturing systems are also organised in a hierarchical classification with 13 genera, 6 families and 3 orders under one class of discrete manufacturing. Findings - This work addressed several weaknesses of current manufacturing cladistic classifications which include the lack of an explicit out-group comparison, limited conceptual cladogram development, limited use of characters and that previous classifications are specific to sectors. In order to correct these limitations, the paper first expands on previous work by producing a more generic manufacturing system classification. Second, it describes a novel web-based expert system for the practical application of the discrete manufacturing system. Practical implications - The classifications form the basis for a practical web-based expert system and diagnostic benchmarking tool, but also have a novel use in an educational context as it simplifies and relationally organises extant manufacturing system knowledge. Originality/value - The research employed a novel re-iterative methodology for both theory building, using observational data, producing the conceptual classification, and through theory testing developing the final factual cladogram that forms the basis for the practical web-based expert system and diagnostic tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-685
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Technology Management
Issue number5
Early online date5 Jun 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jun 2017


  • change management
  • cladistic classification
  • discrete manufacturing
  • evolution
  • knowledge-based systems
  • linnaean classification
  • manufacturing cladistics
  • manufacturing development and change
  • manufacturing systems
  • organizational development
  • organizational systematics


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